Colorado’s oldest craft brewery, Boulder Beer Company, recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. However, over the next two months, the company will be reducing the company by nearly 50%, laying off 21 of its employees and selling off its canning and bottling lines as well as the larger brewing tanks.

Small craft breweries across the country have been forced to downsize or sell as competition for great beer becomes fierce. For example, another Boulder favorite, Avery Brewing, sold 70% of its business to Founders Brewing Co. this year.

Sales of craft beer have also slowed over the last few years, with only a 3% growth in 2018, the smallest of any beer market sector.

“It’s not secret that the craft beer industry has become increasingly competitive in recent years. Packaging and distribution comes with their fair share of costs, which is one reason we;ve see so many smaller breweries successfully focus instead on their immediate ‘backyards,’ selling locally brewed beer solely out of their taprooms,” says the marketing and events manager for the Colorado Brewers Guild. “Although we continue to see demand grow for fuller-flavored beers from small and independent brewers, that growth does not ensure the success of all brewing companies.”

Boulder Beer has been a staple of Colorado beer, reaching up to 400 breweries and being one of only two independent craft breweries in the country to compete in every Great American Beer Festival, a celebration that occurred last week in Denver.

A spokesman of the Brewer Guild said, “The decision for Boulder Beer to cease distribution surely wasn’t a light one, but the ability of ownership and management to make tough choices is likely one reason the brewery is one of the oldest original craft breweries in the country and why it’s been able to adapt and evolve as the industry has skyrocketed.”

Distribution of Boulder Beer will be completely ceased by the end of 2019, and the beer will soon only be available only at its brewpub.